The Polar code

At the beginning of the year 2018 the mandatory Polar code of the IMO became effective. The Polar code is an international code to enforce the maritime safety and protecting the marine environment in polar areas. The purpose of the Polar code is to reinforce the existing instruments of the IMO, such as the SOLAS and MARPOL general agreements, to reduce the risks of ships operating in the polar area. The risks incur because of the environmental conditions and long distances in the area. The aim is to make a unified set of rules for both the Arctic and Antarctic areas, but coastal states are able to regulate their territorial sea under the UNCLOS-law.

The Baltic Sea is not part of the geographical area of the Polar code. In the first phase the code will affect SOLAS-ships that sale in the Polar regions, especially passenger and cargo ships. Later other types of ships will be included in the code.

The Finnish Shipowners’ Association has actively been a part of the development of the Polar code. The Finnish Shipowners’ Association has aimed to ensure that also ships other than IACS- and PC-class can continue to sail in the arctic region, as the ice conditions allow it. The FSA has ensured that the ice navigation qualifications from experience in the Baltic Sea, are recognized as part of the Polar code qualification demands and that new demands on existing ships do not prohibit them from operating.